Perry L. Bent of Framingham, Massachusetts, is the volunteer registrar for her local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She frequently researches family lines in libraries and archives around New England.
Ms. Bent has a laptop computer, but not all libraries and archives allow its use. She also finds it better to scan many documents electronically rather than making photocopies. Even without an available laptop, Perry Bent electronically scans the documents easily. She doesn't need to carry the laptop with her when she visits a library.
Ms. Bent carries a DocuPen in her purse. The DocuPen is a device that is eight inches long and about half inch wide (205 mm x 12.7 mm). It weighs two ounces (57 grams). The device looks like a magic wand, and perhaps it is. (Click on the thumbnail picture of the DocuPen below to see how tiny it is.)
The DocuPen is a handheld scanner. Moving the DocuPen by hand, Perry Bent can scan an entire page - graphics as well as text. Best of all, it scans without an attached computer! All data is stored in the DocuPen's 2 megabytes of flash memory; then the data can later be downloaded to a computer's hard drive. The DocuPen handheld scanner can store up to 100 pages in its own memory, more than enough for most visits to a genealogy library or to a records archive.
To be sure, the DocuPen's resolution is not as good as that of a desktop scanner; it is capable of scanning at either 100 dots per inch (dpi) or 200 dpi resolution mode. Ms. Bent is happy with that minor limitation, however. "I scan pictures of ancestors, and you can recognize the person," she said. To see sample scans, go to http://www.planon.com/docupen.html#technicalspecs and see the 5 links near the bottom of the page. You also may be interested in the demo videos near the top of the same page.
The operation of the DocuPen is simple: place the paper or book to be scanned on any flat surface, place the DocuPen across the top of the page and then sweep it down the page in one continuous motion. The DocuPen handheld scanner can scan a full 8 ½ x 11" sized documents in 4 seconds at 100 dpi resolution and approximately 8 seconds at 200 dpi resolution. It scans in monochrome (black and white), not in color.
The DocuPen currently only supports Microsoft Windows. However, it uses a USB interface, so it is hardware-compatible with all newer Macintosh and most Linux systems. The manufacturer says that Macintosh drivers will be available soon. A free copy of ScanSoft PaperPort for Windows software is included with the DocuPen portable scanner package.